5 Hours in Exeter, England

Take a train out of London, and explore this charming English city

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Tea on the Green, an Exeter must, boasts a menu full of traditional English fare and a wide variety of teas

When most Americans visit England, London is the main attraction. They want to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the iconic Tower Bridge. However, travelers shouldn’t forget that there are numerous little towns and cities around London that one could get to in less than three hours. If you get tired of the hustle and bustle of the big city, jump on a train from Kings Cross or Victoria Station, and head to the city of Exeter.

Home to the University of Exeter, The Sunday Times University of the Year 2013, this mid-size English city is the perfect destination for a day trip. And contrary to popular opinion, there is delicious English food to be found everywhere.

Upon arrival, visitors should head to the heart of the city, Exeter Cathedral and the surrounding shops and restaurants. Just off High Street, this quaint area is the picture-perfect setting for a cup of tea and lunch.

Tea on the Green, an Exeter must, boasts a menu full of traditional English fare and a wide variety of teas. If the dreary English weather permits, take a seat at one of the tables outside. You’ll get to admire the impressive cathedral and your food at the same time. As for what to order, try the aptly named "The Exeter." For £7.50 (about $11), you get smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches, a slice of cake (try the Victoria Sponge), along with tea or coffee. In the traditional English way, the tea is served in its own pot, along with individual milk and sugar tubs — a fancy treat for American tourists.

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Once you’ve gotten your full and rested up for the rest of your adventure in Exeter, make your way down to the historic Exeter Quayside. You can work off your lunch by paddling around in a paddleboat, or exploring the shops lining the waterfront.